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The Canadian Press

No Matthews, No Problem: Minus their star centre, Maple Leafs down Oilers 4-2

TORONTO — The Maple Leafs needed all hands on deck without two-thirds of their top line. Minus both Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton, Toronto didn’t miss a beat Friday. John Tavares scored the winner on a third-period power play and Frederik Andersen was stellar in making 30 saves as the Leafs picked up a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Adam Brooks, with his first in the NHL, Jimmy Vesey, and Mitch Marner, into an empty net, had the other goals for Toronto (4-2-0), which went 2 for 2 with the man advantage. William Nylander added a pair of assists, while Marner chipped in with one of his own. “A great effort by the group,” said Vesey, whose team lost 3-1 to the Oilers on Wednesday. “No Auston, no (Thornton). Guys came in and stepped up. “It was a gutsy effort. We didn’t like our game the other night.” Matthews is day-to-day with upper-body soreness, while Thornton will miss at least four weeks after fracturing a rib. “We’ve got to play a little bit differently,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “The group’s really got to recognize the importance of every shift and how important it is to stay with the structure, stay with the plan. I thought we did that really well.” Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl replied for Edmonton (2-4-0), which got 25 stops from Mikko Koskinen. “A good offensive team, you give them a little sniff, they’re going to figure it out,” McDavid said. “We made one too many mistakes.” Down 2-1 through 40 minutes, the Oilers got even 50 seconds into the third when McDavid, who grew up just north of Toronto in Newmarket, Ont., scored his second-ever goal at Scotiabank Arena when he deftly tipped Ethan Bear’s point shot past Andersen for his fourth of the campaign. The Leafs got a power play midway through the period when Toronto’s new top line of Tavares, Marner and Zach Hyman started buzzing, with the latter forcing Koskinen to stretch for a great save. But the Edmonton goalie could do nothing on the Tavares winner — his fourth overall and second in as many games — at 11:46 on a redirection of Marner’s shot after making another terrific stop on Toronto’s captain moments earlier. Andersen shut the door from there before Marner iced it with his fourth into an empty net as Toronto held on for its fourth victory in six outings to open the abbreviated 56-game schedule. “To get a good, hard-fought win like that you need the whole group,” Tavares said. “We got a good bounce-back.” Most of the talk heading into the Leafs-Oilers showdown was about two offensive juggernauts, but despite all the star power, there was very little room at 5 on 5. “You get very familiar with your opponent, tendencies, adjustments that are being made game to game,” Tavares said of a season featuring division-only play. “Things might be a little tighter than people expected. “There’s a lot of respect on both sides knowing the capabilities.” Andersen, who recorded his 139th victory with Toronto to pass Curtis Joseph for fourth in franchise history, said it was a good sign the Leafs managed to limit McDavid and Draisaitl’s chances over the two games. “When you’re facing two of the better players in the league it’s a great task,” he said. “It’s been great to see the team respond and really take that role seriously, and not give them anything for free.” With the Leafs missing Matthews and Thornton, Keefe went back to 12 forwards and six defenceman after dressing an extra blue-liner the last two games. Brooks, Pierre Engvall and Alexander Barabanov drew in up front, while Mikko Lehtonen was scratched on the back end. The Leafs got a power play early in the second, but the Oilers grabbed a 1-0 lead at 5:12 when Kailer Yamamoto threw the puck in front where Draisaitl fished it out of Nylander’s skates and jammed home his second of the season. But Toronto got that one back on the same man advantage 43 seconds later when Jason Spezza fired a puck into the slot that glanced off Brooks and in for the Winnipeg native’s first NHL goal in his eighth appearance. “That was the first game I’ve played in like 330 days or something like that, so it’s been a long time,” said the 24-year-old, who was part of Toronto’s taxi squad before Friday. “It’s nice to get that bounce, and nice for it to come from a guy like Jason Spezza. “A great moment I’ll remember forever.” Andersen then made a good stop outwaiting Jesse Puljujarvi on a break before Toronto pushed in front at 11:16 when Alexander Kerfoot intercepted an Adam Larsson pass behind Edmonton’s net and quickly fed Nylander, who in turn patiently found Vesey to bury his second. “Those have been hard to come by,” Keefe said of scoring at 5 on 5. “It was good to get one.” Friday’s opening 20 minutes weren’t nearly as tight-checking as Wednesday’s chess match, with a couple of chances at either end. Yamamoto, who was credited with the opening goal two nights earlier after the Leafs flubbed the puck into their own net, forced a good stop out of Andersen less than 30 seconds in. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds then had an opportunity denied by Koskinen from the slot. Edmonton’s Zack Kassian took a pass off the rush from McDavid that Andersen just got a piece of with the shaft of his stick. McDavid had another rebound effort denied by Andersen before Simmonds saw his redirection smothered by Koskinen. “Our best guys led us,” Keefe said. “Just a real good team win — which we knew going in it was going to have to be.” Notes: Toronto placed Thornton on long-term injured reserve, where he joined rookie winger Nick Roberston (knee). … Edmonton activated winger James Neal, who was previously on the NHL’s list of unavailable players due to COVID-19, off injured reserve for his first action of the season. … The Oilers now head to Winnipeg for two against the Jets beginning Sunday before hosting the Leafs for another two-game set starting Thursday. … Toronto opens a four-game Alberta road trip Sunday in Calgary against the Flames. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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Everything came up Maple Leafs in most complete win of year over Oilers – Sportsnet.ca

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If you could, you’d bottle it.

You’d have scientists extract the formula and you’d reproduce this exact recipe of hockey every night the puck drops.

NHLers so often trot out “the full 60” objective that it doesn’t just feel cliché. That lofty achievement feels almost mythical, unattainable in a game composed of a zillion tiny mistakes on a slippery surface.

Well, as far as complete performances go, the precision of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 4-0 defeat of the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday is about as close as you’ll see.

That a full 60 was executed without its No. 1 goaltender in the pipes or the league’s No. 1 sniper in uniform made Toronto’s NHL-best 16th victory all the more impressive.

“Everything really came up Leafs here tonight,” Sheldon Keefe said.

The coach began running down the checklist:

• The Leafs’ slumping power play ended its 0-for-12 stretch as William Nylander sniped through Joe Thornton’s stirred net-front havoc in the game’s lone 5-on-4 opportunity.

• Toronto did not commit a single penalty, marking the first time all season the deadly Oilers failed to draw a power play.

• Connor McDavid was limited to one shot on goal and finished the evening a dash-3, his worst stat line in more than five years. And he wore that frustration on his face.

• The Leafs scored in each period and produced even-strength goals from three different lines.

• After being sidelined for a month with a leg injury, Jack Campbell pitched his first shutout as a Maple Leaf — a 30-save gem — and improved his record to a pristine 3-0-0.

• Justin Holl instantly stuck up for Campbell when the goaltender’s head was clipped by a net-charging Tyler Ennis.

• And captain John Tavares thrived on the top unit in Auston Matthews’ absence, drawing the penalty, contributing two assists (his first multi-point effort in more than two weeks) and winning 72 per cent of his faceoffs. A seamless promotion to the Mitch Marner and Thornton line.

“John has not gotten enough credit for how he’s defended through this season,” Keefe said. “You ask a lot more of him here tonight, taking on tougher matchups, even more matchups, against their best players, and I thought he was outstanding. He was above the puck all night long. I don’t know how many shots he ended up with (a team-high five), but he had his own opportunities to score.”

McDavid, too, had a couple chances early — a wicked backhander off the rush blocked by Campbell, and a cut to the slot denied by T.J. Brodie’s deft stickwork — but once Toronto seized the lead, the visitors’ defensive structure took hold.

Sometime between Jason Spezza fooling Mike Smith with his patented fake-the-clapper, unleash-the-wrister snipe and Zach Hyman firing a beauty in tight, Leon Draisaitl could be seen smashing a Gatorade bottle in disgust.

Dave Tippett chucked his forwards into the Vitamix, but the consistency was off.

Edmonton entered this three-game set the hotter team with the hotter goalie.

Sweep the Leafs, and they’d seize first place. Now, the Oilers must regroup and figure out how to beat a Toronto team that has twice come out on top when Matthews takes time to rest his injured wrist.

“Even without Auston, they’re a very good team,” Tippett said. “They don’t get to be on top of the standings without being a good team.”

Campbell said Matthews was “fired up in room” when he greeted the boys in his civvies post-game and can’t wait to get back in. Maybe as soon as Monday.

“You lose a guy like that, you’re essentially taking a goal away from your lineup,” said Keefe, commending the defensive commitment. “If you’re going to score one less, you’ve got to make sure you give up one less. I think the players recognize that.

“For the most part, we had four lines, six defencemen and, certainly, the goaltender that were really on the same page here tonight.”

The fellas stepped up for Campbell, and Campbell held the fort for them.

“Man, we just played great. Every single guy on this team played amazing tonight,” said Campbell, his forever smile growing like the Leafs’ standings cushion.

“That was a full 60 minutes.”

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Defending champion Kerri Einarson secures Scotties playoff berth – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY — Kerri Einarson took a significant step toward defending her Canadian women’s curling championship by skipping her team to a playoff berth Saturday.

Einarson’s foursome out of Manitoba’s Gimli Curling Club beat Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges 7-4 to get to a record of 10-1 with a draw remaining Saturday night.

“We’re definitely just focusing on ourselves and what we need to do,” Einarson said. “We’re in control of our own destiny.”

Ontario’s Rachel Homan (9-2), Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones (8-3) and Alberta’s Laura Walker (8-3) were in contention for the two remaining playoff spots heading into the final draw of the championship round.

The top seed emerging from the championship round earns a bye to Sunday evening’s final, while second and third square off in the afternoon semifinal.

A tie for third would be solved by a tiebreaker game in the morning.

The 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts is one of four Curling Canada events to be held in a spectator-free, controlled environment at the WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

The COVID-19 pandemic thwarting many provincial and territorial playdowns prompted Curling Canada to add two wild-card teams to the Hearts field for a total of 18, which in turn shrunk the playoff window.

Instead of the traditional four teams in a Page playoff, only three advance.

Einarson is attempting the first back-to-back Hearts titles since Rachel Homan in 2013 and 2014.

Sunday’s victor earns $100,000 in prize money and a return trip to the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as Team Canada.

The winner doesn’t have a world championship, however, in which to wear the Maple Leaf.

The March 19-28 tournament in Schaffhausen, Switzerland was cancelled by the World Curling Federation because of the pandemic.

The 2020 world championship in Prince George, B.C., was called off for the same reason, so Einarson wasn’t able to represent Canada there.

Six-time champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba thumped Ontario’s Homan 9-1 on Saturday afternoon before facing Einarson at night.

Jones had struggled the previous evening in a loss to Alberta, but the skip and her teammates were on their game against three-time champion Homan.

“We definitely regrouped and decided we needed to step it up a little bit,” Jones said. “Last night’s loss doesn’t impact our confidence at all. I think that just comes with experience.”

It wasn’t the first time that Jones’ lead Lisa Weagle faced former skip Homan, but it was the first time at a Tournament of Hearts.

Homan, third Emma Miskew and Weagle won three Canadian titles and a world title together. They also represented Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics with Joanne Courtney.

Homan dropped Weagle from her lineup last year and replaced her with Sarah Wilkes.

Weagle met her former teammates Nov. 12 in an Okotoks, Alta., event. Homan won the game 7-1.

There was a time when Weagle might have felt extra satisfaction in beating Homan for the first time, but the all-star lead says that time has passed.

“If you’d asked me that a few months ago, or over the summer, probably,” Weagle said.

“Today, I was really just out there playing for me and I was playing for my team. I just wanted to find a new level of excellence and play really well and I feel like that’s what we’ve been doing here.

“It wasn’t really my focus today that we were playing them. I was definitely excited for the game, but I was focused more on myself.”

Quebec, Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson, and wild-card teams skipped by Beth Peterson and Chelsea Carey are out of contention with their fifth losses.

Alberta’s Walker stayed in the hunt with a 9-4 win over Saskatchewan.

The host province was to take on Carey’s Wild Card One and Homan faced Saskatchewan on Saturday evening.

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Surging Oilers lay an egg against Maple Leafs on big stage – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — They had a game like this one coming, the Edmonton Oilers. But man…

Couldn’t they have saved this effort for a Monday night? Or a Wednesday?

In the first of a three-game set at Rogers Place against the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs, the Oilers just didn’t have enough going to beat a good team on Hockey Night in Canada. There were chances, but very few of the dangerous or close-in variety as Leafs backup Jack Campbell was steady, but never needed to be spectacular in posting a 4-0 shutout.

“We just didn’t deserve to win this game and that’s that,” said centre Leon Draisaitl, who like all of his teammates was somewhat less than awesome in this game. “It’s pretty obvious that they just out-battled us.”

Truly, this was just a lacklustre effort on Edmonton’s part, not nearly enough to beat the best team in the North. The challengers did not even put a scare into Toronto, which pulls six points ahead of Edmonton.

“We got beat,” said a dead-honest head coach Dave Tippett. “We weren’t sharp enough, and they played a strong game. We weren’t sharp enough to win. So we got beat.”

Coming into this showdown, the Oilers had been on a wicked heater, winning 11 of 13, eight of their past nine, and five in a row. They’ve been celebrating a new hero every night for some time now, getting superior goaltending, goals from their third and fourth lines, and plenty of points from league leaders Connor McDavid and Draisaitl.

On this night, Tippett played every card in his hand, rolled four lines for most of the evening, and still kept coming up empty. It was simply an off night for Draisaitl, McDavid couldn’t break free after a first-period look didn’t go in, and the depth players just could not find a way to deliver.

“We couldn’t really get to their net front. We got shots on net but they weren’t very dangerous, or any second attempts,” said Draisaitl, who didn’t agree that the Oilers were due for a stinker. “No, but I guess every team has an off night every once in a while. I guess tonight was ours.”

How bad was it?

• Darnell Nurse, who entered the game with the second-best plus-minus among NHL defencemen at plus-15, went minus-3

• McDavid played 20:15, but had only one shot on net, zero points and was also minus-3

• Draisaitl’s wingers, Dominik Kahun and Kailer Yamamoto, combined for one shot on goal on a rare quiet night for the distributing centre.

• Goalie Mike Smith, who was 6-0 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .944 save percentage, looked merely mortal, giving up four goals on 29 Leafs shots. No doubt Mikko Koskinen will get the start on Monday in Round 2 against Toronto.

Perhaps the most telltale sign that the Oilers weren’t taking the play to Toronto on nearly enough occasions? The Leafs never took a penalty, the first time all season the Oilers power play did not hop over the boards in a game.

“We didn’t earn any power-play time tonight, it’s pretty simple,” Draisaitl said. “We didn’t work as hard. Need to regroup — back at it in two days.”

There was one power play in the entire game — a Kris Russell holding call — and William Nylander buried his eighth of the season. It turned out to be the game-winner, scored late in the first period.

Who would have predicted that?

“You have to use it as a lesson, just like some of those games we were winning in different ways,” Tippett said. “We didn’t capitalize on anything, couldn’t get a kill on a penalty, and we chased the game the rest of the night.”

You can’t say much when the hottest team in the NHL since Jan. 30 loses one. Even if it is a disappointing one to lose, against Toronto on Hockey Night.

“It’s a tight league. Every night is going to be difficult,” observed defenceman Caleb Jones. “But the one thing we can do consistently is win battles, win one-on-ones. We were losing some of those tonight, myself included.”

The same teams play here on Monday, and then again on Wednesday.

Said Jones: “We’re already looking forward to the rematch.”

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